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How to look after a Rat | Kellyville Pets

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This comprehensive care guide will show you how to look after a Rat in 3 easy steps

Fast Facts:

How long will my Rat live? They can live for 2-4 years

How big will it grow? 400-600g

What size of enclosure is recommended for Rats? A multi-level small gauge wire enclosure

What does a Rat eat? Rat mix as well as fruit and vegetables

Rat Housing

Rats make a great low maintenance, low cost pet and their popularity is growing every day. When housing your pet rats, it is important to realise how agile they are and that they can be great escape artists. The best way to house your rats is in a spacious wire cage that has multiple levels and that is designed specifically for keeping rats. These offer good ventilation and allow your rats to be part of their surroundings.

Enclosures should be lined with dust free litter, such as recycled paper pellets. Situate their cage in a drought free area. Always provide an igloo or other hide for your rats to comfortably sleep in. Female rats can be housed together, however males will become territorial and develop dominance issues.

Rat Care

Your rats cage should be cleaned out once or twice a week, depending on how many rats are being housed. All litter should be removed, the enclosure scrubbed with a small animal cage cleaner and fresh bedding put in. All toys should be removed and cleaned with a small animal disinfectant as well.

Remember NEVER use wood shavings, as they can cause respiratory disease in rats when inhaled. A dust free litter, such as recycled paper pellets is generally best. Rats require a mixed diet consisting predominantly of grains and seeds, with some source of protein also present in the mix. This should be served in a small ceramic bowl that is not easily tipped over, and as rats are grazing animals, food should be available at all times. A few small pieces of fruit and vegetables such as corn, broccoli, peas, beans, carrot, apple (no seeds), orange etc. can be added daily. Throw away any uneaten food daily and never feed any spoiled or rotten food.

Special treats can be given in moderation, such as nuts, mealworms and sunflower seeds. Wood chews need to be provided as rats teeth never stop growing and chewing on wood keeps their teeth trimmed and healthy.

Fresh, clean water should be available at all times and is best offered in a water bottle as it is easy to refill and much more hygienic as your rats can’t dirty it. Rats should be wormed every three months with a small animal wormer, which can be added to their water. Parasites such as lice and mites are easily treated with a small animals parasite spray.

As rats can be quite susceptible to heat stress, frozen water bottles should be placed in the enclosure throughout the summer months. It is also a good idea to ensure cool water is available from their drinker and frozen fruit and veggies can be offered.

Rat Play

While each rat has a different personality, they are all very intelligent, playful, extremely sociable animals that love to be held, talked to and played with.

The best way to pick up your rat is to simply scoop it up into your hand. If your rat is a little jumpy, as some youngsters can be, they can be picked up quickly by their tail close to their body. Never leave your rat dangling by their tail as it can scare them and cause them harm. Calm, confident, and regular handling will have your rat settled in no time. Until both you and your rat are confident with each other, handling is best done within the enclosure, in case the mouse gets a fright and jumps down it will prevent injury or escape.

A variety of toys should be available for your rat to increase environmental stimulation. Toys such as ropes, ladders, and plastic piping or used toilet rolls are perfect to keep them occupied. A rat wheel is a great addition to any enclosure as mice love them and they are a great source of exercise and boredom relief.

Did You Know?

There are many different types of domestic rat and they come in a huge variety of colours, coats and markings. They also use their tails for temperature regulation, communication and balance!

We have created a Shopping list to show what you need to look after Rats:

  • Plastic or small gauge wire enclosure
  • Igloo hide
  • Paper pellet litter
  • Hutch cleaner
  • Worming syrup
  • Lice & mite spray
  • Carrier
  • Rat & Mouse mix
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Food bowl
  • Water bottle
  • Wood chews
  • Ropes
  • Ladders
  • Rat Wheel
  • Pipes/tunnels

Common health issues in Rats

Respiratory Infections: As rats have such small respiratory systems small dust particles can easily become lodged in their respiratory tract and cause an infection which can be fatal. It is best to use dust free litters for bedding.

Heat Stress: Being such small animals, rats can easily become overwhelmed by excessive temperatures. It is best to house them in a cool room out of direct sunlight.

Mites: With an increase in stress or decrease in immunity, rats can experience a mite infestation, which can lead to excessive itching and irritation.

Red flags

Is your Rat showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please contact your vet.

  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Hunched posture
  • Dull coat or eyes
  • Lowered activity
  • Laboured breathing

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At Kellyville Pets, we encourage responsible pet ownership.

CARE GUIDE © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - All information found in this care guide is based upon our own experience. The information provided is not the only information available. In any medical situations,  you should always consult your vet, including questions regarding your pet's diet.